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Lightning Round: Another win and a coach is relieved of his duties

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Calgary decides it’s time for a change.

Los Angeles Kings v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Despite beating the Ottawa Senators 7-3 on Thursday night, the Calgary Flames decided it was time to change their leadership behind the bench. Head coach Geoff Ward was fired after the game and replaced by veteran coach Darryl Sutter. The Flames were 11-11-2 under Ward this season after he led them to a 24-15-3 record and a playoff berth in 42 games last season. Calgary was floundering a bit and in fifth place in the North Division.

Flames fans are familiar with Sutter who coached the team from 2002-06. During his stint as the head coach the Flames appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals and were a disputed goal away from beating the Tampa Bay Lightning (it wasn’t a goal). He was also the team’s general manager from 2003-10. While he never lifted the Cup with Calgary, he did coach the Los Angeles Kings to two Stanley Cups (2012 and 2014).

Pierre LeBrun is reporting that the 62-year-old coach signed a three-year deal with Calgary. If he makes it through the entire contract he’ll have coached 21 seasons in the NHL. In addition to Calgary and Los Angeles he’s also guided the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.

The Flames are currently two points out of a playoff spot and fourteen points behind the division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs. There is still time for them to turn it around and ownership is hoping that Sutter is the experienced voice that can turn things around.

Ward is the second coach fired in the last two weeks following Claude Julien in Montreal. In the hyper-competitive North Division it appears teams aren’t giving their coaches much slack. Calgary’s change at top did come as a bit of a surprise. Following Julien’s separation from the Canadiens the odds of Ward getting fired was only 18/1 according to betonline.ag (Vancouver’s Travis Green was the favorite at 3/1).

The organization has a press conference scheduled for 1:00 pm EST. Good times!

Lightning Links

Killorn’s OT goal caps comeback

Apparently a team can take two periods off and still pull off a victory. Still it’s probably not a habit the Lightning want to get into. Thanks to another strong game from Andrei Vasilevskiy and Alex Killorn’s deflected goal just before the buzzer, the Lightning picked up their sixth win a row. The win keeps the Lightning tied atop the Central Division with the Carolina Hurricanes (although the Lightning have two games in hand).

It’s just one of those days

From the Chicago perspective, there were a lot of positives from this game. They dominated the first forty minutes of the game, had solid goaltending from Kevin Lankinen, and kept the Lightning power play off of the ice by not taking a lot of penalties.

Erik Cernak out versus Chicago

He is considered day-to-day with an upper body injury. The Lightning’s shallowest position on the roster is the right side of the defense. Hopefully, it’s temporary and Cernak is back in the line-up soon. If not, it could finally be Andreas Borgman time in Tampa (with Mikhail Sergachev sliding over to the right side). Or they could do what they did on Thursday and roll with Luke Schenn and Cal Foote combining to play around 22 minutes a night.

Fans are returning to Amalie Arena Soon

As in when this road trip is over. It’s not a big surprise as they’ve been discussing it for weeks. Hopefully it all goes smoothly.

Hockey News

Ovechkin fined for spearing

Alex Ovechkin is $5,000 poorer following a fine from the NHL for spearing Trent Frederic on Wednesday.

Yup. That’s a spear.

Brett Pesce fined $5,000 for dangerous trip on Robby Fabbri

The Department of Player Safety levied another maximum fined allowed under the CBA. Carolina’s Brett Pesce upended Detroit’s Robby Fabbri.

Yup. That’s a trip.

Joachim Blichfeld suspended for two games

The Sharks rookie hit Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon in the head. He’ll sit for two games because of it.

Yup. That’s an illegal hit to the head.

Walter Gretzky passes away

The father of former Lightning forward Brent Gretzky and his brother Wayne was 82-years-old. An icon in Canadian hockey, Walter Gretzky was named to the Order of Canada in 2007 and was a torch-bearer for the Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010.